What is the Deal About STUDIO?!

So, many of us just finished our first midterm of the school year for Studio. Myself included. And yes, studio is a big deal for all of us (architecture students).

It is a lifestyle, a process, a work schedule that architecture students partake in.

Studio is a course for ALL architecture students in Building 22 doing the Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS), and you know it, Studio starts when we are all in first year.

But really, what is Studio? Well, firstly, here are some reference questions and answers for you to build your opinions and knowledge about Studio.

1. What is Studio?

“Studio is…a course with a lot of work,” says an architecture student.

The above quote is very true. And it is not a joke with how much work and brain-power that goes into our life doing this course. It is also an incredibly weighty course because after first year, studio equates to 3 credits per school year. So if you think about it: Studio equals to 3 courses.

To answer this question in the simplest way, there is a “schedule” that goes on:

First day of Studio: Students will be organized into small groups of 10-15 students. Each group will follow one Studio professor. Each Studio professor will take a section of the studio room – and each section is called a “bay”. Hence the name, “studio bay” or “(Studio professor’s name)’s bay”. Students will configure their desks and lockers to fit to their liking and make themselves comfortable.

Second day: Students will be under the guidance of their assigned Studio professors, and every student will be given a project to do. The whole class will have the same project, but each student will be guided in a different way depending on how their professors assign their work. There will be a lot of small little models that we build in a couple days, and those are called “study models”; they are small models that we build to show an idea in a 3D way.

During Studio class, you will hear frequent terms like “pin-ups” and “desk crits”. Pin-ups are little, mini presentations that are done somewhere in Building 22 – it will be done with your studio bay. However, don’t be surprised if your professor teams up with another studio bay or brings a “guest crit” (Guest crit: an architect, another professor, a master student, anyone who is not a Studio professor in your year critiquing your work. He / she is usually friends / colleagues with your Studio professor.)

Desk crits, on the other hand, are one-on-one discussions that you have with your professor and is taking place at your desk in studio. They are discussions of what your project’s next steps are, what you need to work for next class, and what you need to clarify. I recommend that you do take this opportunity seriously to talk to your professor about your work because it will affect your grades and your final presentation. By the way, you may find that your professor gives you cryptic, “unanswered” answers because keep in mind, they are not high school teachers. Professors are not teachers; they will not always tell you that you need to put this or that into your project. It is up to you to listen to their suggestions and think about their advice that will most benefit your work.

Midterm day: Present your work to a panel of architects, professors, master students, your class, etc… Receive compliments, criticisms, new ideas, discussions (a.k.a. feedback).

Day after Midterm – Final day: Read and refer back to “Second day – Midterm day”.

Final day: Woot!! The most exciting day!! And also the most-amount-of-emotions day. You are going to be intense, tired, stressed, happy, relieved, sad, anxious, crazed, drained, hyper, strangely calm, fidgety because it is THE END of a crazy, eventful semester. You have already dealt with so many things that have happened during the semester of Studio and now you will be presenting the work that you have been sitting in front of for 4 months in front of a panel of professors, peers, and guests for one last time. And you know after this presentation, you are done with this term’s project. And, you can look back at all the models, study models / experiments, drawings, photos, and research that you have done! After presentations, it is time to have an awesome dinner with friends! FOOD — FINALLY!!

In writing, Studio does not sound like a lot of work, but in life and experience, it is.

In writing, Studio sounds like a very monotonous course, but in life and experience, I promise you, it is not.

In writing, Studio work / projects sound really vague and confusing, but in life and experience, it is vague and confusing because it is hard to explain what you are doing. In fact, it will be easier to show what your project is than to tell what your project is.

2. There is a lot of work in Studio, how do we deal with it?

Good question. It has been 3 years, and I still ask myself the same question. How do we deal with the work?

This question is a throwback to “Studio does not sound like a lot of work, but in life and experience, it is.”

And it is ALSO a throwback to “It [Studio] is a lifestyle, a process, a work schedule that architecture students partake in.”

Before I forget, I need to mention that in ADDITION to Studio, you will have additional courses like Tech, H/T Electives, Core courses, Workshops, or other electives. So, you will find that these courses will have deadlines and assignments colliding with Studio. So uh, whose fault is it that you will have deadlines that come one after the other? It’s no one’s fault. Really and truly no one’s fault. It is just part of life…and architecture life.

As architecture students, we just learn to deal with tight and insane deadlines. We learn to deal with stress. We learn to work and finish the work the best we can. We learn that working towards deadlines to get things done is part of our lifestyle. And ultimately, we learn that everyone else is also on the same boat as us. So yes, there is a lot of work for Studio BECAUSE it collides with deadlines from other courses we need to take. And yes, Studio also does have an relentless amount of work. So yes, everyone in Studio is stressed, or will be stressed out.

Being stressed is part of our lives, and it is not fun…but the best part about being an architecture student is that we are not stressing about our workloads alone. Look around in studio, and you will see that your peers / colleagues / classmates are just as stressed out as you are…and why? Because we all have the same courses and have the same projects! We all have the same amount of work to go through and get done, we all the same projects to do, and basically, we all have the same workload to complain about. So the next time you are stressed out about the workload, just know that you are not dealing with this alone and the whole school is with you on this I-am-so-stressed-out feeling.

3. “Studio life and work is NOTHING compared to the other students in the other streams [Heritage Conservation & Sustainability, Urbanism, Theory / Criticism]”

Now now now that is a statement I do not like coming out of the students living in the Design stream of Building 22. Sorry, Design students, BUT I’m also in the Design stream as well. So…yeah.

Personally, I feel that the other streams: Heritage Conservation & Sustainability (C&S), Urbanism, and Theory / Criticism (T/C) are incredibly underrated and misconceived. To put things straight, despite what history, rumors, and some upper-years may say, Design students are not necessarily the best academically-standing students in the Architecture program. Sure, the Design stream has the largest population, but by no means is the Design stream the best. What is the best and most important, is that you know your own interests. And taking Studio (the Design steam) for every semester is not always what we are interested in doing for second, third, and fourth year.

In the end, in the realm of Carleton’s Architecture program, all 4 streams will end up graduating with a BAS – “whatever stream you did in your undergrad”, so really, WE WILL ALL HAVE THE SAME UNDERGRAD DEGREE.

Unfortunately, I do not know much about T/C because I haven’t met anyone in our BAS taking this stream – so I don’t have any insight about this stream.

Luckily, I do know of people who have taken Urbanism and friends that are currently in C&S. With this knowledge, I am able to say that even though you are NOT in the Design stream, YOU WILL have Studio!!!!!! Studio for C&S and Urbanism will not be as saturated as the students in the Design stream, but you will have Studio and a studio space to do your Studio work. Studio for C&S and Urbanism will have projects geared towards what you are studying in your stream. For example, if you are in C&S, then chances are your Studio projects can be about revitalizing an existing historic building while also adding new sustainable technology to maintain the historic building. There will also be model-making, drawing, research and presentations to go along with your produced work. If you may say then, C&S Studio and Urbanism Studio will pretty much have about the same “schedule” as Design Studio.

Oh and if someone gave you the idea that C&S and Urbanism is going to be a lot easier or more slack than Design because there will be less Studio classes, then be prepared to be disillusioned. C&S and Urbanism is not any easier – they are also stressful, tightly-scheduled streams (yup, Architecture is a stressful program) because in replacement of the lesser Studio classes, you will have other Core courses to fulfill in the stream to graduate with a BAS.

4. What do we need to bring to Studio?

Your brain, your imagination, your creativity, your hands, your body, your mind, your soul, and your tools.

So you’ve got your brain, imagination, creativity, hands, body, mind, soul all check and ready to be used on the first day of Studio. But what tools do I need to bring?

Well aside from food, you definitely need your Drawing class tools because you will be drawing / sketching / taking notes again. And like the Blue’s Clues kid show (I am really telling my age here), you will need a “handy-dandy notebook” – a sketchbook.

Basic tools you should invest in: a personal hammer, screwdriver and basic screw set, hacksaw + replacement blades, Olfa knife + lots of replacement blades, X-acto knife, cutting mat, Weldbond or LePage glue, SuperGlue / Krazy Glue, clamps, pliers, metal rulers of various lengths (personally, I have 4 metal rulers of different lengths), hot-glue gun + hot-glue gun sticks (perfect for study models).

For those who want to indulge in more expensive tools: power drill + various drill bits, a rotary tool (e.g. Dremel brand — there are also other brands in Home Depot to choose from).

Personal electronics to think about: laptop (I assume that most will have one) and DSLR camera.

Depending on what you are making in Studio (what materials you will be using for your Studio models), you may need to add or subtract from the list above. However, in my opinion, the basic tools that I mentioned are my recommended must-haves because you will find that during crunch-time people will be less willing to share those items. Plus, they are inexpensive and can be purchased at Walmart or at Home Depot. And you will be prepped for more Studios.

For the power tools (more expensive tools), it depends on what you making for Studio. Sometimes we do not need to use these tools all the time, and a couple visits to the Wood / Metal shop will suffice, but there will be some of us where power tools are needed because of what we need to make. Other times, we have power tools because we brought them from home, but keep in mind you are not required to have power tools. If you do need to use it, kindly ask your classmate and he / she will most likely lend it to you. Just make sure you use power tools AFTER Studio hours (after 6PM).

And personal electronics – possibly the most valuable items to us. The tools that store all our information, work, process, pictures, drawings…These are tools that are hard and frustrating to replace when stolen or broken. So guard them with eagle eyes and never ever leave them unattended. And ALWAYS backup your Adobe, AutoCAD, Rhino, Revit, etc… files!!! (Download Dropbox, Google Drive, have several USB keys.) Honestly, I do recommend purchasing a powerful laptop that can run Adobe (Photoshop, Premiere Pro, InDesign, etc…) without freezing or glitching, and can also run architecture software like Rhinoceros, Revit and AutoCAD.

To learn more insight and advice on laptops that suits your budget and lifestyle, feel free to ask upper-years; we are happy to help!

In my opinion, owning your own personal DSLR camera should be on your upcoming Christmas list. It will be easier to manage pictures of your work, without accidentally deleting someone else’s or someone else deleting yours. Also you will have more freedom taking pictures when you have your own camera.

What do I mean by “more freedom”? Well, I will answer that in the next question. Hold on.

5. Is there anything else we need to do after Studio finals?


What is it do we have to do?


What is that?

A portfolio containing all the work you have done in Studio. There will be pictures of your drawings, models, study-models, any piece of work that you need / want to record. Hence, to have “more freedom” when you have your own DSLR camera, this is why…It is easier to use your own DSLR camera to do your copywork!

Why do we need to make another portfolio?

First of all, models will break apart overtime because we move it, the glue deteriorates, it falls off the shelf, it takes up too much space. Whatever the reason is, the models we painstakingly make will not last forever. Sad as it is, that is why photographing your model while it is in its most pristine shape will make it last “forever” (that is, if you don’t lose the copywork file). Copywork of your work will be a permanent record of the awesome, sexy model you made in Studio. It will be there in pictures to show and to brag about.

Secondly, for bragging rights, copywork can also be a resource to add to your job application. One day, we will all apply to an architecture / design firm, and it is a given that we will need to hand in a portfolio along with a cover letter, resume and references during the job application. So if you got brilliant photos of your awesome, sexy model in your copywork, then feel free to include those pictures into your portfolio to show your future employer how great you are at model-making, designing, and computer skills. Unsurprisingly, the quality of your copywork can add on the quality of your work produced in Studio.

Therefore, in Studio, it is one thing to make an incredible model and drawings, and another thing to show that brilliance through your copywork.

6. With all the work needed to be done for Studio, when is the time to have fun?

Haha! Believe or not, you will have fun working on Studio when you are in studio.

I am being honest!

So where does the fun come from?

Pretty much when we get bored of working, or we are waiting for the glue to dry, we take the time to socialize, make food in studio, grab food in the Oasis down at Res Commons. Having dinner together with other classmates.

You will surprised by the power of food, and how it bonds architecture students together in studio. We make food together, order fast food together, eat food together…in the end, we sort of live together in studio. And it is all in the power of food!! FOOD!!

During those fantastic late-nights in studio, you will hear some music — mostly Electronic Dance Music (EDM) or and any music played in clubs or parties blaring out in the studio. Sometimes you will hear the tunes that you used to jam to during high school or even elementary school. Lots of students with different background, so lots of different tastes in music equates to an endless playlist of tunes that the whole studio jams to!! Yay!! Party a night long!


Well, there is it. Studio. We will all live it. And honestly, don’t stress over it. It’s not bad. You will be able to party, laugh, sing, live life, I promise. Just work hard and you will be fine.


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